You should be lifting weights at least once, but ideally two to three times per week for 30 minutes, alternating sessions of upper body exercises and lower body exercises. A simple resistance regimen can be enough to keep you from "the slippery slope of frailty," from which there's no coming back, Peeke says.
However Peeke doesn't recommend going it alone. In your 60s, your bones become more fragile and "your tendons and ligaments are drier," so she strongly advises working with a certified fitness professional specializing in geriatric exercise to help you avoid getting hurt. IDEA Fitness Connect, an extensive online database of certified fitness professionals, can help you find one near you.
Better yet, join a group fitness class; many gyms and community centers offer a variety of group classes geared toward seniors, such as Zumba and water aerobics. The supervision makes it safe and you may find working out with others more enjoyable, Peeke says.
70s+: Sustain strength and flexibility. Walking isn't the only activity that's safe for seniors 70 and up. To continue performing daily functions independently, Knopf says you must also continue to work on strength, flexibility, and balance.
No rigorous workouts or gyms are required, however. In Knopf's classes, his elderly students incorporate all of these elements into simple activities done on or around a chair. The routine might consist of arm raises with resistance bands and leg lifts. Next, they move on to aerobics around the chair, followed by stretching.
You're never too old to reap benefits from exercise, according the NIH. The key to exercising safely is easing into your workouts. "Don't just run it out of the stall," Knopf says. You can avoid clicking and clunking—not to mention cracking—by taking inventory during your warm-up to see how you feel. If you're tired, take it slowly. If you experience pain (different from discomfort), check that you're using correct form in your movements, he suggests. If the pain persists, stop and consult your doctor to determine how to proceed with your exercise regimen.
If a lifetime of exercise sounds overwhelming, remember that the most important aspect of your exercise regimen at any age is not a particular fitness benefit—it's fun! "Health has to be carried on, on a daily basis, for a lifetime," Knopf says. The best way to keep your drive to exercise from burning out is to find the activities you love enough to do every day.